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Cranberries May Provide Runners With A Natural Boost

4 months ago

3323  0
Posted on Mar 21, 2024, 7 p.m.

Many athletes are on the lookout for ways to give themselves an extra little edge against their competitors that might help improve their performance. Now a recent study from Concordia published in the journal Physical Activity and Nutrition suggests that they may be able to find an all-natural boost in the common cranberry.

The Concordia researchers found that ingesting a cranberry supplement for 28 consecutive days led to a noticeable improvement in performance and muscle fatigue following 1,500-meter time trials during a series of trials involving 14 high-level trained distance runners, who performed at least 5 hours of endurance training/week. 

The runners ran two time trials (15,00 meters and 400 meters) over three separate visits, with the first as the baseline, and they were given a dose of cranberry extract two hours before the second. The runners were then instructed to consume a daily cranberry supplement for 28 days, and then return to repeat the runs for a third time. Running time and post-exercise blood lactate were measured, and a portable near-infrared spectroscopy device was used to measure muscle oxygenation levels before, during, and after the runs. 

“When it comes to elite athletes, any advantage can make the difference between finishing fifth or on the podium,” says Andreas Bergdahl, an associate professor in the Department of Health, Kinesiology and Applied Physiology and the paper’s senior author.

“We selected these distances to test the effects the cranberry extract had on different energy systems,” says Francis Parenteau, a PhD candidate and the paper’s lead author. “The 400-metre is shorter and of higher intensity and involves the anaerobic system. The 1,500-metre uses the aerobic system but is shorter than what the athletes usually run. Since they do not train to run that distance, we were able to isolate training effects as a variable.”

The runner’s oxygen rates were found to be faster and their running speeds improved by 1.5%, which could be important when fractions of a second can separate winning or losing. Data analysis revealed that after the 28-day cranberry supplementation, there was a trend toward increased speed in the longer distanced time trial but not the shorter one. However, lactate buildup was reduced following the 400-meter trial but not the 1,500-meter trial compared to baseline. The analysis indicates the cranberry extract promoted better oxygen extraction by the muscle, improved lactate clearance, and slower muscle deoxygenation.

Cranberries are a rich source of polyphenol compounds with potent antioxidant properties that can help to protect the body from the harmful effects of free radical molecules, including those that are produced by strenuous exercise. This study suggests that cranberries may be an all-natural performance-enhancing aid for athletes looking for that little extra boost. 

“The beauty of this is that it is all-natural,” says Bergdahl. “It is an ergogenic aid, meaning that it is performance-enhancing, but it is not an anabolic steroid. Athletes can get this important boost in their performance just by consuming more cranberries.”

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As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

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